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About this blog

An account of our travels and tribulations.

Entries in this blog

 

Rotorua - Maori Ancestral Home

Rotorua is a good size town. Among its claim to fame is having a number of local boys playing on the All Blacks Rugby Team, the national team of New Zealand. The name comes from their original uniforms which were the least expensive available, all black uniforms, no stripes, no decoration, no names. The team has become a cause celebre for the nation and now are internationally ranked in the top rugby in the world. We had one objective in Rotorua and that was to learn more about the Maori pe

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Gilmour Lake Park in Waihi - When life gives you lemons…

Gilmour Park was an impromptu lunch stop for us. Louise had purchased a chicken pot pie at the BP Connect Station where I fueled the campervan. While she fixed the rest of our lunch, I took a walk around the park. It turned out to be a delightful park with a nice lake, with paths around the lake and boardwalks over wetlands and a children’s playground, it was a really pleasant stop. In gathering information for this entry, I learned that the park also had hidden beauty that I didn’t apprecia

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Exploring the Coromandel Peninsula

The Coromandel Peninsula is a favorite holiday area for the Auckland area. It is just a couple of hours drive from Auckland to the southern end of the peninsula. There is hardly a straight road anywhere in the Coromandel. To the west lies the Hauraki Gulf and to the east is the Pacific Ocean. So this is similar in some ways to Florida but it is also dissimilar in many ways. Primary among these is that the Coromandel is mountainous and has some indications of volcanic activity in its many ho

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Sheep World

After our long drive from the Waipoua State Forest we pulled up for the night at Sheep World. We had seen this place on the way north, it is right on NZ Hwy 1. It looks for all the world like a real tourist trap but we were tired and it was late so there we’ll stay. The owner is a real character, elderly and quick with his mind. We had breakfast at their restaurant the next morning then stayed for the dog and sheep show at 11:00. We visited the many animals they had in pens and cages, every

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Waipoua State Forest

We left the park at Russell headed west to cross the island to the west coast. We wanted to spend some time hiking in the Waipoua State Forest, site of the largest Kauri trees in the world. Kauri trees are a source of gum and an important economic export from the islands until World War II. Much of the forest is gone but several very large Kauri trees can be seen in this forest. The road to Waipoua State Forest was quite serpentine, travel was slow and we encountered frequent one lane bridge

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Waitangi Treaty Grounds - Early New Zealand History

We left Orewa Beach Sunday morning headed north to Whangarei and beyond to Russell and the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. After several days in the campervan we had a list of things we needed. Groceries were at the top of the list. Yes, despite our purchase on Friday we were in for another purchase of food. We located the Countdown Grocery and Louise went in to start shopping. I went to a housewares store, Briscoes. I thought it was going to be more like a Lowe’s than a Bed Bath and Beyond but I

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New Zealand - Day 1, I learn to drive, again!

We left the rental agency with our campervan, our suitcases piled on the floor in the rear and a brand new left-side-of-the-road driver in the driver’s seat. Our first stop was to be a grocery store just a few blocks away but after negotiating several rotaries and getting totally turned around, it took us 30 minutes and a stop to get information from the brochures we had been given. We finally arrived at the Countdown Grocery which is a subsidiary of Woolworth’s, yep, the Woolworths we all rem

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Our New Home

Arriving in Auckland, New Zealand, our first stop is of course to pass through customs. We filled out the arrival card answering questions about the contents of our luggage, etc. Then we face the agents and answer questions about our answers. It is all pretty routine. Next, we need to find a way to get to the rental agency to pick up our campervan. We inquire at the airport information desk and are assured that a shuttle will arrive shortly to take us to the rental agency. Within about 15

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Upside Down and Backwards

We arrive in New Zealand at 6:30 a.m., two days after we left our house. Where did that day go? Crossing the date line erases a day. We are actually 19 hours ahead of Central Standard Time in the US. As I explained to our children, it means we are 5 hours behind their clock time so imagine moving the clock back five hours, and then turn the calendar ahead one day! Actually we are on the same day from midnight to 5:00 a.m. in the Central Time Zone. What about other time zones? Well, it is

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The Best Laid Plans

On Friday, January 24, 2014, just five days before our scheduled departure for New Zealand, we stopped on our way into the park to pick our mail. In the mail was a summons for jury duty for me, Tom. Oh, Great! I read the information carefully. The report date was scheduled for after our departure. There was an information sheet to be completed and returned within 5 days. It was possible to submit the information by computer, so I logged on and filled out the required information. At the

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Turning Plans Into Reality

Preparations for the trip took much of my time in the months leading up to our departure. We had passports but needed international driver’s licenses to be able to rent and drive cars and campervans. The international driver’s license is actually just a translation of the provisions of our US driver’s license into four languages and converting weight and vehicle restrictions into metric units so that someone in a foreign country can assess our driving qualifications and understand what our li

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An Idea Takes Shape

In 2012 Louise and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. We couldn't decide what to do or where to go for the celebration. Living in south Texas now, we didn't want to travel north in December so we decided to postpone the celebration for a special trip of some kind. We received an advertisement for a cruise from a company we had cruised with once before. This was a really exotic cruise, perfect for an anniversary celebration. Two weeks cruising the Fiji Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledo

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These Are the Best of Times

We're back in our winter campground. Southern Texas calls us back each winter. It could be the warm weather. It might be the wonderful people. Maybe it is just the memory of winters in colder climes that makes us feel as though we are cheating mother nature staying where it is warm (remember, warm is a relative term). As I write this our temperature is 50oF while much of the central US is facing a night of negative temperatures. Here in our park we have an active group. I fell in with the

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Rolling On!

A month ago we had the close call with fire (see my previous post, Good News, Bad News) in Lander, WY. Leaving Lander we made a dash for California. A night here, two nights there, and next thing you know we are in Valley Springs, CA. Our son-in-law and his father installed a 50A hookup for us on their home so now we can park next to their driveway. What about the lawn you ask? In this part of California, rock and gravel are a natural ground surface and we found the parking spot just made f

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Good News - Bad News

As of our last post we had just entered Colorado as the heavy rain and flooding occurred. We stayed for a week and got a first hand look at some of the damage. What we saw in the Denver/Arvada area was minor compared to the real damage which occurred in the mountains and out on the plains as the flood waters continued to disperse. There are towns in the mountains which have no road access to the outside world and likely won't have until sometime next spring or summer. Countless roads washed

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The Fun Never Ends!

We stayed with friends in Yankton, South Dakota last week. It was a nice long weekend visit. I played golf twice while Louise got her quota of card games. We shared plans and updated each other on family matters. As we left, we had a two travel days planned on our way to the Denver area where we are now. As we pulled away we began talking about the possibilities. I asked if Louise would enjoy a drive along the South Dakota border and what roads were there for us to travel? She looked at t

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A Well Used Motor Home

Our motor home always has something that needs fixing. This has been the history of the coach since we bought it. This is not a complaint, it is the nature of a well used motor home to need things fixed on a regular basis. Call it upkeep or maintenance, it has to be done. I'm glad that I enjoy doing things myself because the cost of hiring someone else to repair all the minor things that can go wrong would be exceedingly expensive. We just reached the 120,000 milestone on our last trip. T

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Eastward Ho! U.S. 50 California to Colorado

After our stay in California, we set out on our way east to St. Louis, Missouri. We’ve made this trip many times. The default trip going either way is to travel to I-80 east to eastern Nebraska where we pick up I-29 south to Kansas City and then I-70 to St. Louis. When we make this trip we are usually on a schedule so time is important and the interstate fills the bill. We’ve detoured several times, to visit friends, to see the Grand Tetons. We sometimes stop in Denver to visit relatives so

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Fun With the Girls

After our blistering cross country trip to California, Louise picked up our two youngest granddaughters in Stockton at noon on Monday. I stayed at Paul Evert’s RV to have a spring replaced in the roller of our slide out cover. As soon as that job was finished I headed for Watsonville to meet Louise and the girls. I arrived about an hour after Louise but there is a playground at Pinto Lake Park where we would be staying so the girls had something to do until I arrived. Louise had checked in

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That's How We Roll

We have just completed one busy week while putting some serious miles on the motor home. We've made a few trips like this before. I would like to think that this is the last one but somehow the need to quickly move from one place to another seems to keep popping up. Unlike much of our travel, this trip was in the middle of summer in the very places we have avoided during the summer for the past 12 years. We have never been at home in Edinburg, Texas in July. The same could be said for June,

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You Really Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd

We took the Bison Ranch Tour at the FMCA Family Reunion, 50th Anniversary Rally, in Gillette, Wyoming. It turned into a real adventure, much more than expected. Our tour was Friday evening and was to include a meal before our return to the rally site in Gillette. We met the bus at the assigned location and boarded without incident. This was a nice commercial bus with comfortable seats and air conditioning. After the last passengers were on board we were on our way south on Wyoming Highway

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50th Family Reunion in Gillette, WY

Our oldest grandchild turned 13 today. Ryan was born almost exactly a year after my retirement and almost exactly one year before we went full time in our motor home. I mention this because his age so nearly parallels significant changes in our lives. From the day we purchased our first motor home in 2001, we were FMCA members. In our 12 years of FMCA membership we have attended five rallies, Hutchinson, KS in 2002; Redmond, OR in 2004, St. Paul, MN in 2008, Bowling Green, OH in 2009 and now

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An Unusual Journey (Part 2)

In Part 1 I described the first day of a trip from Edinburg, Texas in the Rio Grande Valley to Dakota Ridge RV Park in Golden, Colorado. I spent the first night in Ballinger, Texas. My goal for the second day of the trip was Amarillo. I always prefer to park on the far side of large towns so I don’t have to start out driving through town in busy morning traffic. The weather was mostly cloudy until I got near Amarillo. Being just over a week from my last cataract surgery, I really apprecia

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An Unusual Journey (Part 1)

I have driven the motor home without my navigator beside me before but never quite like this trip. There have been a few short trips to repair shops. The only long trip was from St. Louis to Houston. On that trip Louise was following me in the toad as I returned a tow dolly to its maker. On that trip we had radios for communication on the road and we stopped for rest stops, meals and overnights together. On Monday of last week I dropped Louise off at the airport. She was on her way to Den

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